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Pye-Barker’s acquisition strategy tied to success, culture and service, says Proctor

Pye-Barker’s acquisition strategy tied to success, culture and service, says Proctor

Pye-Barker’s acquisition strategy tied to success, culture and service, says Proctor

YARMOUTH, Maine—CEO Bart Proctor likens Pye-Barker Fire & Safety’s acquisition strategy to adding new members to its family.

And that family has truly extended over the last eight years, as the Alpharetta, Ga.- based fire protection, life safety, and security services provider has added nearly 200 companies to its portfolio since 2016, including 34 acquisitions since the beginning of 2024.

Company success

Pye-Barker Fire & SafetyAs Proctor told Security Systems News, this aggressive acquisition strategy that Pye-Barker has implemented can be attributed to several factors that have been instrumental to his company’s tremendous growth, most notably the success and expansion of the family-owned businesses that Pye-Barker purchases.

“I think the post-acquisition performance of the businesses has really, really gone well,” Proctor said. “As you know, most of these businesses are family businesses. Each family has put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into making their company successful. So, when the time comes to sell, our business owners certainly want to see the company continue to do well and grow, and they want to ensure their team is taken care of. We've had great success and good luck with that.

“I think when you go back and visit a company that's done a transaction with us - a year or two or three years later - and you look at the success of the business going forward, and the success of the employees, the happiness quotient, if you will, is positive. I think that's given us a real advantage when it comes to our continued acquisitive growth, quite honestly.”

Proctor noted that Pye-Barker receives capital from the private equity space to make its acquisitions, noting that the company is one of the first in the fire safety arena to use private equity firms to finance its purchases. Currently partnering with two private equity firms, Leonard Green Partners and Altas, and in talks to add a third investment partner, Pye-Barker is ready to do its fourth recapitalization in eight years to support its acquisition efforts.

Culture and service

Proctor stressed the importance of company culture as a key consideration when seeking out prospective companies to acquire, as well as ensure alignment with Pye-Barker’s values of customer-bias, trust, respect, and commitment.

“It really boils down to culture at the end of the day; we're looking for businesses that share our value set and are putting their employees first,” the CEO explained. “When we're talking to someone who's considering selling their business, if they're worried about their employees and what it means for them going forward, that's always a very good sign for us. We feel that that's the kind of culture that we have with Pye-Barker, and that's the kind of culture we want to bring in with those businesses; that's really the biggest thing.”

He added that Pye-Barker “loves” the service side of the fire and life safety business and always searches for companies that either have adopted that model or are trying to adopt the model of a service-based business.

Full-service offering

Proctor noted that Pye-Barker’s national expansion began in earnest at the end of 2016, 70 years after it started out as a fire protection and safety equipment supplier.

“Our entrance into the security and alarm space, which catapulted with Mountain Alarm, has really ramped up over the last couple of years, with guidance from [President, Pye-Barker Alarm Division] Eric Garner,” Proctor said. “We're a fully integrated, full-service provider, so bringing really good security and alarm monitoring companies into our mix has been very complementary to the rest of our fire service offering.”

Adding security and alarm companies to Pye-Barker’s portfolio has been very beneficial to customers who have needs in those areas.

“It allows us to cross-pollinate customers with all services, so this was the third leg of the stool on our existing platform,” Proctor noted. “It has blended in very well because the same customers who need alarm services, as an example, also tend to have sprinklers and tend to certainly have fire suppression needs. It's kind of a full-service offering and it's very complementary to our existing model.”

“Wow!” numbers

With the flurry of acquisitions that Pye-Barker has made over the past year and a half, Proctor pointed out some “Wow!” numbers to demonstrate the company’s success.

Pye-Barker’s revenues were over $1 billion in 2023, with Proctor noting that projected revenues are targeted to go over $2 billion in revenue for the first quarter of 2025. In addition, Pye-Barker is building out its RMR to the tune of $16 million “and growing rapidly,” he said.

With the business “really doubling every year and a half,” according to Proctor, one of the stronger things that Pye-Barker has been able to do at scale and growth is maintain the operating margins. “Our growth continues at the same rate it was when we were a much smaller company, so the business is really exploding,” he noted.

Growth plans

Following Pye-Barker’s next recapitalization, Proctor noted that if the company continues the growth rate that it’s on - “which we certainly expect to do with the quality of the business,” he said – he sees Pye-Barker becoming a public entity in the next four to five years.

“A lot of things could happen between here and there, but in a perfect world, that's probably where this business is headed in the next four or five years,” he added. “I just think, because of our size - we're getting too big at some point for the private equity markets - to keep the momentum and the success going, that very well may be part of our future.”

With almost 200 companies purchased covering 45 states since its national expansion in 2016, Proctor noted that expanding Pye-Barker’s reach outside the U.S. is something he is looking at.

“There’s certainly a market for it and so there may be a future opportunity,” he explained. “Our mission remains focused on providing communities with better options for protecting the surrounding businesses, their employees and families.”

In addition to the security and alarm companies that Pye-Barker has acquired, Proctor noted that adding more integrators and video monitoring companies has been discussed. “We’re looking at adding more legs to the stool, so to speak,” he said. “These are things that we're trying to get our head around right now.”

As Pye-Barker continues to grab a stronghold across the country - and perhaps internationally down the road - Proctor is very happy about where the company is headed.

“We're excited about the future, for sure, and we really love the community that we’ve created together through all these acquisitions,” he concluded. “It's a big family; the kind of family you like spending holidays with, not the kind you dread. We're excited about what we’ve built, where we’re going, and most importantly, that we’re now one team.”


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